Use Play Therapy, “Sugar Therapy”, or taste therapy, when a client, especially a child, is in crisis mode (hysteria, hyperventilation, etc.).
I use this play therapy technique when I get a child or adult who is hysterical and cannot process any therapy.
It takes time to move a child of play therapy out of the "crisis mode" as they are working from the lower part of the brain (reptile brain). Therapy cannot happen when someone is working out of this part of the brain.
The play therapist needs to move the play therapy client from the reptile brain to the executive functioning part of the brain.
It is important that the play therapist address the “crisis feelings” before conducting therapy utilizing the taste "buds" in play therapy.
I have a jar filled with small colorful suckers that I will bring out when a play therapy client is in crisis and needs to calm down so that play therapy can begin.
I use “Sugar Therapy”, or taste therapy, in play therapy sparingly, as giving sugar to children may sometimes be controversial. I also check with the parent at the beginning of taste therapy to make sure I can offer their child sugar from time to time.
This “check-in” with parents is included in my informed consent paperwork given the prior to the first session. Materials: Suckers or Hard Candy Jar for candy items
Directions for Play Therapy Sugar Therapy:
1. If a play therapy client comes into the therapy session and is hysterical, hyperventilating, or beyond rationalization offer them a sucker or piece of hard candy. I prefer a sucker as the client can remove the sucker to talk as soon as they begin to calm down.
2. Begin the play therapy session by telling the client that you will just sit with them while they calm down and focus on eating the sucker. Ask the client to only think about the sucker and how it tastes at this moment.
3. While the client is focusing on the sucker ask them to begin to focus on their breathing by breathing from the diaphragm and taking long, deep breaths.
4. “Sugar Therapy” can take anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. Once the client has calmed down and can begin to talk then the therapy can begin and the client can focus on the situation at hand.
I truly hope that Creative Counseling 101 can open the creative doors for your practice with clients!
Disclaimer: This website and its content is intended for trained licensed mental health professionals and school certified mental health professionals to use for their clients / students at their own discretion.
*If you ignore the disclaimer above are using these techniques on yourself and you feel any discomfort or upset it is highly suggested that you seek out a licensed mental health professional immediately.
"Beyond Art Therapy" is the concept from Dr. Stangline that combines all creative fields in therapy. It is not the traditional "art therapy" but goes beyond to include sand tray therapy, play therapy, mindfulness, meditation, color therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a vast majority of other therapies.
For any other type of mental health emergency call your local 911 / Police Number immediately.
Dr. Stangline does not offer advice / suggestions to anyone who is not a professional mental health provider, or a student who is studying this field and has questions about mental health programs of study.
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